Category Archives: political news

Trump fails referendum

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am still trying to digest the results of the 2020 presidential election, so allow me this moment to ponder what they might mean.

I’ll go with what I have heard others suggest already, that Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden and the failure of Democrats to sweep the GOP away under an anticipated “blue wave” in both congressional chambers tells me the election was a referendum on Trump.

Donald Trump failed the test.

He suffered a fairly decisive defeat. He likely will end up on the short end of a 306-232 Electoral College tally, and will trail President-elect Biden by roughly 5 million ballots in the actual vote. Biden will have won by roughly 3 percent overall.

What that tells me is that Americans had heard enough of the lying, the insults, the innuendo, the divisive rhetoric, the endorsement of Nazis and Klansmen as “good people,” and the constant pitting of Americans against each other based on their political affiliation.

It also tells me they were sickened by the sight of Trump ignoring the recommendations given by medical experts as the nation continues to fight the pandemic that has killed 230,000-plus Americans. Mask wearing, keeping an appropriate “social distance” from others have been scoffed at by Trump.

I haven’t even mentioned, until now, the catering to dictators around the world, especially the one in Russia who has offered to pay bounties to Taliban terrorists who kill American service personnel in Afghanistan.

Congress remains a mixed bag. The best case for Democrats is they win the two George runoff elections and attain a tie in the upper chamber. The GOP whittled away at the Democratic House majority.

The good news from a policy standpoint is that President-elect Biden has a long record of working well with Republicans. He might need that skill as he seeks to govern after Jan. 20.

Donald Trump called his narrow victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 a “landslide.” It wasn’t. Neither is Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. However, Biden sold himself as the preferable alternative to Trump’s four years of division, anger and ignorance.

That is just fine with me.

Texas sets the pace

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It’s not often I get to brag about the politics of the state of my residence.

I will take that opportunity to boast about a key development that has unfolded in Texas, where I have called home since the spring of 1984, when I moved my family here to take a job with a newspaper on the Gulf Coast.

The Texas Tribune reports that 9.7 million Texans voted early for president, or about 58 percent of all registered voters. Why is that reason to boast? The vote total exceeds the entire number of ballots cast during the 2016 presidential election. The percentage of turnout looks to be on pace to soar significantly past 60 percent of all voters when Election Day comes and goes next Tuesday.

My wife and I were among the 9.7 million fellow Texans who voted early. We cast our ballots on Oct. 13, the first day of early voting in Texas.

That day was a big deal for my wife and me. We usually vote on Election Day. The coronavirus pandemic — coupled with pleas from most Democratic politicians — persuaded us to vote early. We did so in Princeton, near our home. We took all the precautions called for: masks, social distancing, washed hands, sanitizer … you name it, we did it.

We got our votes cast and logged into the Collin County electronic system.

What fills me with pride is that Texas answered the call in a manner that set the pace for other states across the nation. We voted early because we felt concern about whether our ballots would be counted would we have voted by mail.

I long have hoped for the day when Texas could become a competitive two-party state, when it could break the Republican vise grip on the political structure. I don’t know if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will win this state’s 38 electoral votes, but I feel confident in suggesting that they are going to be highly competitive on Election Day. Moreover, so will the myriad congressional and legislative races on the ballot as well.

My center-left political sensibility hopes the Biden-Harris ticket can win the state’s electoral votes and that Democrats can gain control of the Texas House of Representatives. If it happens that Biden-Harris carries the day at the top of the ballot, then it’s “game over” for Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

To be sure, that would be enough to make me possibly shout my joy from the front porch of my home.

For now I will settle for the pride I feel that Texans have answered the call to vote early and possibly portending the kind of overall turnout that delivers Texas into a new political era.

Yell it out: We’re No. 1

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Early voting in Texas has shut down and here’s the good news: Texans responded like champs to Democrats’ call for early voting.

We responded so well that the early vote totals have surpassed the entire number of ballots we cast in the 2016 election; and that includes Election Day voting four years ago.

So, what does that mean? On the surface it could mean that more voters who lean in Joe Biden’s favor have turned out to cast their ballots early. My ballot is among the more than 9 million already cast. Does the former VP have a majority of those ballots in his column? Beats me. We’ll find out in, what, four days.

Still, it warms my soft spot to know that Texas has set the pace nationally in responding to this early-vote call. It was done out of concern that Donald Trump’s re-election machine is going to muck up the ballot-counting of mail-in votes.

Democrats responded by imploring us to vote early. My wife and I did, even though we would have preferred to wait to vote in-person on Election Day. The COVID crisis, though, persuaded us to vote early and not risk getting a mail-in ballot caught up in the snail-mail delivery system.

Now comes the mad rush by the candidates — Biden and Kamala Harris on one side, and Trump and Mike Pence on the other — as they criss-cross the country in search of votes.

I am now going to relax just a bit over the next couple of days. Then I will await the returns to start pouring in on Election Night. Oh, how I want this election to turn out the correct way.

Will this surge spell end of Trump Era?

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Harris County, Texas, has set two records in a row since the start of early voting on Tuesday.

Dallas County up Interstate 45 hasn’t done too badly, either.

Oh, and how about Travis County, where the state Capitol can be found? They’re turning out in huge numbers, too.

Same for Bexar County.

What does this mean for the 2020 presidential election. Some Democratic activists believe it bodes well for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and us Bidenistas who want the Democrats to oust Donald Trump and Mike Pence from the White House.

I am not going to count them chickens just yet.

However, I hasten to add that Democrats have been all over TV, radio and in print telling us all to “get out and vote.” If the first two days of early voting in Texas are an indication, the message has been heard. Democrats hope it means Biden and Harris are reaping the ballot-box reward.

Let me crystal clear: I do, too, want them to harvest the electoral fruit of this get-out-the-early-vote drive.

Harris, Dallas, Bexar and Travis counties all are Democratic strongholds. I have acquaintances in blood-red Randall and Potter counties who believe the Democratic ticket is catching fire up yonder in the Panhandle. I … am not so sure about that.

However, the record-setting early-vote turnout in those Democratic bastions gives me hope that just maybe, perhaps, possibly the state could turn from an R to a D on the strength of that monstrous balloting tide.

To be sure, the Trumpkins are turning out as well. They’re flying plenty of “Trump-Pence” flags in rural Texas. Donald Trump, though, isn’t going to pitch a huge early vote among his faithful. Indeed, he wants fewer of us do our patriotic duty. Go figure.

Don’t leave this matter up to someone else

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

There once was a time when I worked for a living … and during that time of my life I would write newspaper editorials urging people at election time to be sure to vote.

My argument was simple. I tried to rejigger it to avoid repeating myself. It would go something like this:

If you do not vote, then you are going to leave this critical decision to someone else, someone who might not share your world view. Do you really want to cede that responsibility when you can take control of it in your own hands?

That argument is never more relevant than it is today.

I refer to the presidential election that’s coming up on Nov. 3. My wife and I intend to vote Tuesday morning on the first day of early voting in Texas. I once was adamantly opposed to early voting. I sought to hedge my bet, guarding against someone who gets my vote from messing up after I vote for him/her but before Election Day.

That rationale is no longer in play this time. I am concerned about what Donald Trump might do to muck up the election result. He is going to challenge the result, possibly, if Joe Biden gets more votes for president than he does. That’s why I intend to vote early. My wife, too.

We intend to get our votes recorded and logged into the system.

I also want to encourage everyone who can to vote early. If we do not vote ourselves for the presidency, then we are going to leave that decision to someone else who might want to (gulp!) keep Donald Trump in office for another four years.

The person you see at the other end of the church pew might be a Trumpkin. So might your next-door neighbor. Or the crowds you see at the grocery store.

Me? I am a die-heard Bidenista. I intend to cast my vote early. I don’t want to be the only person at our Princeton, Texas polling place. I want there to be a crowd of folks. I am prepared to wait in line.

I’ll be damned if I am going to leave this decision to someone who doesn’t agree with my world view.

Justice isn’t partisan

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A series of political signs caught my eye recently while driving along Lucas Avenue just east of Allen in Collin County, Texas.

“Keep Your Republican Judges” the signs blurt out.

The signs bring to mind a question I used to ask Texas judicial candidates while I was working for a living as a newspaper editor.

“Can you tell me the difference,” I would ask, “between Democratic justice and Republican justice?” The answer from judges and judicial candidates in either party was essentially the same. They couldn’t differentiate between the parties.

That brings me to a point I have been harping on since The Flood, which is that if Texas is going to keep electing its judges it needs to remove the partisan label from these races.

I have more or less given up on the notion of appointing judges and then having them stand for “retention” at the ballot box. Texas seems wedded to the notion of electing judges, which we do at all manner of levels: justices of the peace, to county court at law judges, to district judges, to appellate court judges, to the Court of Criminal Appeals and to the Texas Supreme Court.

They all run either as Democrats or Republicans. Depending on the relative strength of either party at the time, we have tossed out fine judges from the weaker of the two parties.

As late as the early 1980s, when Democrats remained strong in Texas, fine GOP judges got the boot. Then the tide turned and Texans began tossing out fine Democratic judges in favor of GOP judges. Why? Because they were of the party in power.

It doesn’t make sense to me.

Judges who adjudicate criminal and civil cases do not deliver justice on the basis of partisan leaning. Appellate judges, be they sitting on regional appellate benches or on the state’s top two appellate courts — the CCA or the Supreme Court — do not interpret the Texas Constitution on a partisan level.

I can understand selecting judges based on their judicial philosophy. If they are too soft or too harsh in their judgments, then allow voters to make their selection on that basis.

Partisan labels don’t belong in our state’s judicial contests.

Mind made up: going to vote early

I will vote early, but certainly not often, which would be corrupt, yes?

My wife and I have talked about whether we should vote early in this election cycle. We both have decided that, by golly, yes we will.

It gives me the nervous jerks to admit such a thing. I have written often over many years about my aversion to early voting in elections when I can vote on Election Day. This year, under certain circumstances, we have decided we’re going to avoid the crowd and vote early at a polling place to be announced soon by Collin County election officials. My concern centers on the fear that the candidate who gets my vote might mess up between the time I cast the ballot and when they count the ballots.

The coronavirus pandemic has frightened me sufficiently to forgo my usual Election Day routine.

I am not sure whether we’ll have vote by mail in Texas. Our state attorney general, Republican Ken Paxton, is vowing to resist voting in that fashion. He has swilled the Donald Trump Kool-Aid that makes him think all-mail voting is corrupt. It isn’t.

If Texas is not going to allow voting by mail, then I intend to vote early to ensure that my ballot gets logged in and that my wife and I can have our voices heard on who we want elected president of the United States.

Spoiler alert: It ain’t Donald J. Trump! It will be Joseph R. Biden Jr.!

The president is seeking to undermine the integrity and efficiency of our state and local election systems. He keeps harping on the specious and phony threat of corruption.

Our household intends to vote early to protect ourselves against exposure to the killer virus from a big Election Day crowd. I don’t expect Texas to join those states that have used all-mail voting with great success. We do a good job in Texas, though, in conducting early voting.

So … early voting will have to do.

What about the ‘water’s edge,’ Mr. Secretary?

The late great Republican U.S. Sen. Arthur Vandenberg coined the maxim that “politics stops at the water’s edge.”

That was his way of saying that in the pursuit of foreign policy, we shouldn’t quibble over partisan matters, that we’re all Americans regardless of political affiliation.

I want to extend that notion a bit farther. Secretaries of state shouldn’t engage in partisan politicking while they are representing U.S. interests abroad, either.

Listen up, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, I’m talking about you!

Pompeo is going to speak to the Republican National Convention tonight while he is in Jerusalem, ostensibly talking to Israeli leaders about this and that … such as crafting a comprehensive Middle East peace.

What the hell is he doing talking to the RNC about a partisan political matter, such as re-electing Donald J. Trump?

I know there’s nothing illegal about what Pompeo will do. Legality, though, doesn’t make it right. Thus, the secretary of state speaking to a partisan convention about a political matter just doesn’t pass the proverbial smell test.

This, I submit, is just one more time-honored tradition that Donald Trump has managed to destroy.

The more the better

Democracy is a “participation sport.”

That is to say that the more citizens who participate in the democratic exercise of voting, the more representative the government that results is of the people it is designed to protect and defend.

This is my way of furthering an argument I used to make while working in daily print journalism. I aimed the argument at voters who failed to participate in local elections. Local government elections generally draw abysmal voter turnouts. I witnessed it in Oregon and Texas, where I worked for nearly 37 years as a journalist.

I sought to urge voters to cast their ballots so they would have a voice in the government that sets tax policy, determines the quality of law enforcement and fire protection, picks up the trash and provides water for us to drink.

So … how does this logic play out now as the nation prepares to elect a president of the United States? The same argument applies.

However, Donald Trump and his Republican pals want to suppress voter turnout. We have a pandemic raging across the country. Millions of voters are afraid of getting sick by voting on Election Day; they want to vote by mail. Trump opposes that idea, promoting a specious argument that mail-in voting is inherently corrupt. Except that it isn’t corrupt.

The Trumpkin Corps wants us to believe we cannot vote by mail without our ballots being stolen or compromised in an unspecified nefarious manner.

It is imperative that we do all we can to encourage more voters to decide this election. Not fewer of them. I do not want others to determine who we elect as president of the United States.

If we are able to vote by mail, I intend to cast my vote in that fashion. Absent that, I intend to vote early in Texas, even though I have a lengthy history of reciting on this blog my loathing of early voting. My preference is to vote on Election Day as a hedge against the candidate of my choice doing something stupid or criminal that makes me regret my vote.

The pandemic changes that dynamic for me.

Thus, it should be imperative that we allow more people to vote. The reasons are as straightforward as they are regarding local elections.

Democracy works better when more citizens — not fewer of them — take part in this fundamental element of living in a free society.

Most important … ever?

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

We hear it every presidential election cycle, about how “this election is the most important in our lifetime … or in the past century … or in the history of our glorious republic.”

Take your pick. It’s one or some or all of them, right?

Well, I happen to think the election we’re about to conduct might qualify as the most important election ever. As in ever in the history of the great nation we love and cherish!

Donald J. Trump became president by trading on voters’ unhappiness with the “status quo,” whatever that meant. What the nation got has been a lesson in chaos, confusion, incompetence, disloyalty and an obsession with hostile dictators at the expense of our national intelligence community.

Who would think they ever would hear a president trash his predecessors’ records in the White House while extolling the “love letters” he receives from a murderous Marxist dictator? Moreover, who would have thought that another dictator would stand accused of paying bounties on the lives of American service personnel and our commander in chief would refuse to punish him; the president has betrayed the oath he took to protect the men and women he sends into battle.

Joseph Biden stands poised — I hope! — to remove Donald Trump from the White House, a place he never should have been allowed to enter, let alone as president of the United States.

I have tried to make a singular point about Donald Trump, which is that this individual’s entire adult life — all of if! — has been focused solely on enriching Trump. Public service has been totally foreign to him. We now are witnessing the consequences of what I have sought to tell readers of this blog. He doesn’t comprehend the public service aspect of his job.

As President Barack Obama noted in his speech Wednesday night, Trump views his office as a “transactional” endeavor, meaning that he would enact public policy in exchange for favorable treatment.

That is not good government. It is not in keeping with public service at any level, let alone at the highest level possible.

Yes, we are faced with a monumental election in just a few weeks. Americans who were fed up with the status quo now have learned what they got. They got a president who doesn’t know what he’s doing, he doesn’t care to learn anything about the office he occupies or the limits built into it.

We need to rid ourselves of a president who is endangering the very democratic principles he took an oath to protect.

Is this the most important election we’ll ever decide? It looks like the real thing to me.